A Place Of Healing – 05

The last patient of the morning was a normal young man with a boil on the back of his neck. Andrew froze, lanced and dressed it, feeling for once like a normal doctor in a normal practice.

But he felt as if he had been hypnotised by the soft lilt of his patients’ accent, each word enunciated clearly but musically as though they were chanting a spell.

That afternoon Andrew drove across the island to the other, smaller town of Drumnagar. He intended to have a surgery there on two afternoons a week.

He drove on the narrow road that took him through a great glen with hills rising on either side, their tops sometimes hidden in scudding clouds. A wide, shallow river winding through the glen shone gold when a shaft of sunlight like a searchlight pierced the cloud.

He stopped the car for a moment and got out. There was not another person to be seen. This was a remote and beautiful land, an enchanting land.

He thought of W.B. Yeats and his thoughts in his poem “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree”.

And I shall have some peace there.

Perhaps Andrew would find peace here in Skerrabost.


* * * *


On his return in the late afternoon he opened the front door of Stanecroft House and heard voices. Going into the kitchen, he found Cassie and Jess at the scrubbed wooden table with a teapot, teacups, biscuits and a young man.

“Hello, Daddy,” Jess said.

“Andrew,” Cassie said, “we have our very first visitor! This is Paul Bryant. He’s the minister at St Margaret’s. We are his parishioners.”

The young man stood up.

“Only if you want to be, of course. It’s nice to meet you, Doctor Shelley.”

“Nice of you to call, Mr Bryant. Please sit down.” They shook hands. “How was school, Jess?”

She shrugged.

“It was OK. My teacher is nice. Miss Jordan.”

“Och, she is nice,” Paul Bryant said. He glanced quickly from Andrew to Cassie. “I mean, she’s a very good teacher. The children love her.”

Cassie’s quick eye noticed his slight embarrassment.

“Is Miss Jordan a real Miss? She’s not married, or anything?” she asked.

Paul shook his head, a touch of colour in his cheeks.

“No, she’s not married.”

“Because she’s awfully pretty,” Cassie pressed.

Paul nodded.

“Yes, I suppose she is.” He switched tack. “And she’s in the church choir. What about you, Cassie? Do you think you might be interested?”

“I would,” Cassie replied enthusiastically. “I like singing.”

“She has a sweet voice,” Andrew added.

“What about you, Doctor Shelley?”

Andrew laughed.

“No, I don’t have a sweet voice. Call me Andrew, please. Away from the surgery I like to forget I’m a doctor.”

“That’s true.” Cassie smiled. “You know, Paul, a doctor’s family gets no sympathy when they’re ill. He just says to . . . take an aspirin.”

Her voice faded and there was a little silence.

Jess broke it.

“I’m going to learn Gaelic, Daddy.”

“Are you? That’s good.”

“Will you stay for supper, Paul?” Cassie said.

“That’s kind, but I have a pie in the oven at the manse. Mrs McGregor left me a . . .”

“She did here, too,” Cassie interrupted, “a lovely meat pie.” She glanced at Jess. “The same as yours,” she added meaningfully.

“Ah. Yes, a meat pie,” Paul agreed.

“So, the minister and the school teacher,” Cassie remarked when he’d gone.

“What do you mean?” Andrew asked.

“Didn’t you see his reaction? Mr Bryant – who is single, by the way, and has only been in Skerrabost a few months – is sweet on Miss Jordan. I wonder if she has any suitors?”

“Suitors? You sound like a scheming woman in a Jane Austen novel,” Andrew teased. “Leave poor Paul alone.”

“Andrew, darling, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large manse must be in want of a wife to run it. Or words to that effect!”

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!